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An illustration that depicts an accountant selling clients the dream AccountingWEB

Selling clients the dream


For firms looking to grow and innovate, change is a scary, yet necessary part of reaching that next level. Whether it’s investing in digitisation or exploring a new niche, getting used to the new norm can take time.

6th Nov 2023
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For clients who may have grown comfortable with the way things have always been, a change in vision can sometimes ruffle feathers. While your team might be on board with the new direction, clients may balk at the shift in their relationship with you. This is something that Jo Wood has experienced a number of times during her tenure at the head of Jo Wood Virtual FD Ltd.

“Clients are looking for consistency, but while there are people that really like what you’re about, they’re still resistant to what you want to achieve with them. I guess it’s simply because no one really likes to change, do they?” Wood said. 

Focus on the clients that matter

For Wood, the first place to start is by weeding out the clients you’re sure aren’t going to be a good fit. Once you have a fully onboarded a client who simply doesn’t fit and they’re paying their monthly fee, then it’s too late.

“You have to be ready to go on that journey with clients from the beginning,” Wood continued.

Using what Wood terms “attraction marketing” her firm utilises all the resources necessary to ensure that the clients that fit find her, while the ones that don’t steer clear. 

And this cut-throat approach not only helps your clients, it’s essential to a positive team environment according to Wood. “Clients who don’t make an effort are just never going to be happy and that means you’re not going to be happy.

“We still get people who come to us who have only used spreadsheets, but they want to do it. They just don’t know how to be experts and that’s where we can help. But I’ve been a people pleaser before and it’s just not worth it.”

Communicating the journey

However, even those clients that fit the mould from the beginning can find changes later down the road scary. To tackle this issue, Wood argued for the importance of telling your client in no uncertain terms that you’re making these changes for their own benefit.

“The thing we have to remind our clients of is that we’re in this relationship because you want change; because something isn’t working currently,” Wood said.

And it is this taking control of the narrative that Wood believes has helped her win over clients spooked by talks of innovation, adding: “I know how we can serve our clients best, and if that requires change, I remind them to trust the process and the reasons why they came to us.”

From there, Wood emphasised the importance of continued communication of the message, keeping the client in the loop and making them feel valued, even as things change. 

“Communication is key, we try to make ourselves easily available,” Woods said. 

“We have WhatsApp groups with our clients, and initially when we onboard them, we meet with them every week on Zoom to ensure they’re happy with our way of doing things.”

Be the success your clients want to see

Wood concluded by noting that one of the best ways you can bring clients along for the journey is simply by showing them the success of joining. For Wood, who recently sold her firm, the fact that she has achieved great success was something that enticed clients to invest in her vision as it mirrors their desires as business owners.

“My clients have been through massive change recently. But what is great is that I was constantly having conversations with my clients about their own exit and how to attain that.

“So actually, the majority of my clients were like, ‘Oh, my goodness, you’re always talking to me about one day when I sell, and you’ve managed to do it’. They’re happy as we’ve proved it’s possible, so they more become fully invested in our vision.”

This article is an extract from our new editorial special report: “The practice innovation handbook”. Download it now to access expert advice and real-life examples to help you identify areas for improvement in your firm and make changes that will drive innovation and boost efficiency.

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By Justin Bryant
07th Nov 2023 11:09

Shouldn't that instead be: "Selling clients - the dream"?

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